Gin has been enjoyed for centuries. It is believed to be an English adaption of the Dutch spirit, jenever, which was produced originally as a tasty medicine by a Dutch scientist in the 17th century to treat a variety of ailments. When fighting alongside the Dutch during the Thirty Years’ War, English soldiers noticed how brave the Dutch were in battle. This “Dutch courage” became attributed to the jenever they were drinking. Smugglers would bring hauls of illicit contraband onto the Sussex shores and often stop at local village pubs, from which the bootleg liquor would be distributed around the village through tunnels from their cellars.
After the war, the soldiers returned to England with this new spirit and by the early part of the 18th century, gin had become hugely popular in England, with several London households concocting their own gin at home from grain or malt wine flavoured with juniper. This home distilling of gin was encouraged by William of Orange intending to damage the French wine trade. This led to the “Gin Craze” when, allegedly, a pint of gin was more affordable than a pint of beer! Gin continued to be a popular spirit up until the 1950s, when its consumption declined. In recent years, however, this stylish spirit has made a phenomenal resurgence and its restored popularity continues to grow. The demand for different and interesting flavoured gins has allowed plenty of space for newcomers in the gin market.